BETTER LUCK ON MR. TOAD’S WILD RIDE THE MOVIE

26 May

500_3_charlize_theron_w 1. Tomorrowland/Disney                          Wknd/$ 33.0   Total/$ 33.0
2. Pitch Perfect 2/Universal                     Wknd/$ 30.8   Total/$ 109.6
3. Mad Max: Fury Road/WB                    Wknd/$ 24.8   Total/$ 88.3
– Poltergeist/Fox                                         Wknd/$ 22.6   Total/$ 22.6
4. Avengers: Age of Ultron/Disney         Wknd/$ 21.7    Total/$ 404.9
5. The Age of Adaline/Lion’s Gate           Wknd/$ 15.0   Total/$ 39.9
6. Hot Pursuit/WB                                     Wknd/$ 3.6      Total/$ 29.1
7. Furious 7/Universal                               Wknd/$ 2.2     Total/$ 347.1
8. Far From the Madding Crowd/Fox    Wknd/$ 2.2      Total/$ 5.4
9. Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2                           Wknd/$ 1.9      Total/$ 65.7
10. Home/Fox                                              Wknd/$ 1.8     Total/$ 168.1

SOMEWHERE JOHNNY DEPP LAUGHS, “NOT SO EASY, IS IT?”
Tomorrowland opens at number one and between this and Mission Impossible 4, I’m glad Brad Bird is returning to animation with a sequel to The Incredibles, ‘cause live action is clearly not his thing. There are clearly too many compromises you have to make with people that you don’t have to with drawings. Though it’s where the writing is concerned that things go astray. Granted, the simple fact that Damon Lindelof is on as a co-writer here automatically means suckage, but you’d think as director Bird could overcome it. He cannot. This seems to be the logical (and by “logical” I mean only in the mind of someone shamelessly chasing money) extension of Pirates of the Caribbean. That is, Disney making even movies based on their theme park rides. The mistake is while Pirates of the Caribbean was/is a theme park, pirate movies are an old, established genre. You could have called it anything else and still had the same movie. This, however, had to be totally original and how exactly do you tell the story of a future that never came to pass? Well, judging by this, you don’t. Ironically we see more of “the future is now” in our first encounter with the protagonist, Casey (Britt Robertson), than for any other part of the movie when she sneaks onto the Cape Canaveral base using her iPhone to control a toy helicopter. You can use your iPhone to remote control a vast number of things and this has happened in the last decade. It’s amazing but it doesn’t seem to register. Anyway, her father is a NASA engineer and in some naïve way she’s hoping to stop the dismantling of the space program by stomping the dismantling of the launch platform. She’s not only clever, but an incurable optimist and these are the reasons she’s sought out by recruitment robot that looks like a 12-year-old girl. We see this robot earlier when the younger version of George Clooney’s character goes to the World’s Fair in Queens in the 60’s to submit his jet pack idea. The robot helps him sneak into Tomorrowland when House—I mean Nix as played by Hugh Laurie rejects him because his jet pack doesn’t quite work. In Tomorrowland one of the robots fixes it so it does and he’s allowed to stay. Later, however, when the robot drops Casey off at Clooney’s place—after avoiding other killer robots—we learned he was kicked out under pain of death if he ever talked about Tomorrowland. We also learn that Casey was selected because she might be able to fix what’s wrong with it, something Clooney helped to create. As they make the journey back, we learn that the origins of Tomorrowland started with Thomas Edison, Jules Verne and Nikola Tesla…and they apparently built a rocket in the Eiffel Tower which is just cool as fuck. Of course you might wonder how no one knew there was a rocket there, not even The Nazis when they took the place, but honestly it’s so nice I give it a pass. What I cannot give a pass to is basically the whole concept. A world established over hundred years ago in another dimension for the betterment of mankind…that apparently has never done anything for the betterment of mankind and then gave up in 1984. Yeah, that’s how subtle the film is at yelling at you for letting the planet go to hell. Bear in mind they built a freaking rocket in The Eiffiel Tower which was constructed in 1889, had jet packs and robots in the 60’s (not to mention some kind of fountain of youth shake) and never shared any of it, but it’s our fault. The movie never comes close to explaining why all they seemed to was plan for a better tomorrow but never actually did anything (actually that would have been a better reason for Clooney’s exile in that he realized they never would). Also, the girl robot has been recruiting dreamers, but while Casey makes the cut, Stephen Hawking and Steve Jobs never did (no, I don’t see them asking Bill Gates)? Another problem is that Casey is flat out annoying, something both Clooney and the robot mention and they’re not wrong. When Clooney tells her to just shut up and be amazed for once, he’s speaking for all of us. Speaking of Clooney the most mystifying flaw of the film beyond him vanishing off-screen for half-an-hour, is that they give him a 12-year-old girl robot as a love interest. Yes, she’s technically as old as he is, but when it comes down to it, what you see onscreen is George Clooney and a 12-year-old looking lovingly at one another (which sounds like some kind of bizarre comedy Woody Allen would write where the protagonist keeps insisting that it’s okay because she’s a 50-year-old robot while the world wants him dead). Yeah, I’m sure it was cute on the page that he’s harboring a love from childhood but fully realized it’s just creepy. That no one saw this as a problem in the initial planning stages shows you this was doomed from the beginning.

SISTERS ARE DOING IT FOR THEMSELVES
Pitch Perfect 2 is down to number two and returning with a promotion for this one is Elizabeth Banks who was actually one of the producers for the original as well as co-starring. Again, this remains a double-edged sword of success in Hollywood. A female driven film is one of the biggest films of the year so far, but it’s about something “silly.” As opposed to the gritty realism of The Avengers, no doubt. But this is the excuse that will be given for no increased presence of women behind the camera despite this being one of two biggest openings of the year being alongside 50 Shades of Grey. But all props to Elizabeth Banks who was the comedic woman of the moment after The 40-Year-Old Virgin back in…’08. Holy shit! Has it really been that long!?! Unfortunately most of her subsequent roles as the female lead tanked. She had the misfortune to be in both Meet Bill and Meet Dave neither of which anyone wanted to meet. She then fell prey to the attempts to make Ryan Reynolds, Sam Worthington and Chris Pine into stars, but luckily The Hunger Games appeared to give her a new lease on life. After that came Pitch Perfect and this year alone she’ll be in the Magic Mike sequel as well as the final Hunger Games movie. So basically the more female driven her work, the more she succeeds. Now there’s a lesson.

SHE USED TO BE MY GIRL
Speaking of female and driven, no matter what the title of the film Charlize Theron is the clear star of Mad Max: Fury Road, which is down to number three this week. But honestly when you think about it, Max is never really the driving force behind any of his movies beyond the first. He’s just trying to die with his pain in the wasteland when he’s caught up in someone else’s schemes to try and rebuild the world, which usually climaxes him driving a big rig that’s beset by the scavengers of the apocalypse. Seriously, that’s the plot of every movie and I don’t have a problem with that. Like Banks, the more Theron stays away from simply being “pretty girl lead” the better off she does. Her last big hits were the far from critically beloved Hancock, Snow White and the Huntsman and Prometheus but in none of them was she the leading man’s love interest. And she damn sure isn’t one here. Also it was her call to shave her head. Yeah, pretty people live for messing up that beauty thing whenever and wherever they can.

AND WHO WOULD HAVE A CLOWN DOLL ANYWAY!?!
Okay, apparently the remake of Poltergeist opened this weekend, but it actually doesn’t show up on some box office charts. Which would make sense as I’ve seen not one commercial, billboard or even print ad for it. It’s almost like it’s a literal ghost film. I saw the original back when I would do the scary, but honestly if I’d known this was coming out I might have given it a shot as it always felt more like science fiction (girl trapped in alternate dimension) than horror. Well, aside from that fucking clown. Whoever thought to include that (and the tree) tapped into the childhood fears of the collective planet.

TIME TO WORK FOR A LIVING
Avengers: Age of Ultron is down to number four—or five—and finally making an onscreen appearance is someone who’s been part of the Marvel movies all along: Paul Bettany, who’s been the voice of Jarvis. Something he admits to forgetting in interviews. Must be nice to make money that easily. Well, not anymore as he has to be painted and suited up to be the android known as The Vision. You say you want a brief comics history of the character? Well, don’t mind if I do. Shut up. You were too thinking it. The Vision is created by Ultron to help him destroy humanity, but turns on him, becoming an Avenger and ultimately marrying The Scarlet Witch. And they have two kids! Well, kinda. They’re made of magic and…okay even that’s too much for me. But Bettany does a good job with a limited role that only pops in the last half hour of the film. But he’s lost that easy Iron May paycheck.

SISTERS ARE DOING IT PT II
The Age of Adaline actually rises to number five (or six), followed by Hot Pursuit at number six (or seven), Furious Seven at number seven (or eight) and Far From The Maddening Crowd rising to number eight (or nine). Okay let’s tally it up. Britt Robertson is the protagonist of Tomorrowland, followed by the women of Pitch Perfect 2, Charlize Theron and all the women of Mad Max: Fury Road, Blake Lively in Age of Adaline, Reese Witherspoon & Sofia Vergar in Hot Pursuit and Carey Mulligan here in Far From The Maddening Crowd. That makes six out of the top ten (or eleven) films female driven. Sadly, that’s kind of impressive and won’t be lasting very long now that the summer movie season has formally begun. So enjoy your moment, ladies!

THE END
Paul Blart is either number nine or ten depending how you count it and Home is either number ten or finally removed from our sights.

VISIT

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